The game guru
Riccardo Momesso is one of the premier game chefs in Australia, driven by his love of hunting and his southern Italian roots.
Riccardo is busy with a new business, Ferrovia Deli & Fine Foods in Railway Parade, Pascoe Vale (across the road from Pascoe Vale railway station).
The café is currently open for breakfast and mornings but owner Danny Leone has plans to extend into the building next door and open for lunch and dinner later this year. “Danny is a good friend of mine and he asked me to come and join him; it is going from strength to strength,” “With the restaurant we are going back to our roots. Danny is from Sicily and I’m from Calabria, they are very similar cooking styles and historically, they belong in Pascoe Vale,” Riccardo said.
Riccardo is busy and the kitchen is hot as he completes two duck dishes for service.
He’d love to be out in a field somewhere enjoying his love of quail hunting but it is bone dry and on this mid-april day he woke to 27 degrees and a dust storm sweeping across Melbourne. “Hopefully in coming weeks I can have a walk and a bit of a look for some quail, but it is dry, there’s been no rain and the ground is as hard as a rock,” he said.
“I can at least get the exercise. The quail are always out there somewhere but I suspect there’s not many in Victoria at the moment, they are like ducks and follow the rains and the water.”
Riccardo likes to cook all sorts of game and while his duck legs with homemade gnocchi appears complicated and a long labour of love, he reckons it is simple enough for most hunters to try.
You compile the dish in parts over a few days but most of that is the 48 hours the duck legs sit in the marinade while you do other things like hunting and the mash for the gnocchi is made the day before you intend to eat. “The traditionally made gnocchi is made with potatoes, they come from the ground and are earthy; duck and potato with a rich tomato sauce is a marriage made in heaven,” Riccardo said. “This recipe isn’t breaking any new boundaries. It takes time to accomplish but it is really simple, the way my Italian family has cooked for centuries. You could also use pasta, like a heavy pappardelle, but I like the gnocchi because of the way it embraces the sauce and takes on the flavour.”
When the restaurant opens later this year Riccardo will base some dishes on game, a reflection of his love for it and the following he has amongst huntergatherers.
For magazine Riccardo produced multiple dishes, two of which are featured in this edition. “After the events of last year we need to show how versatile duck is and that there is no need to waste it, no game should be wasted,” he said. “My motto is to always leave a few eggs in the basket, we need to hunt sustainably and with respect for game and that follows through into the kitchen. You go out exploring and hunting for game and you should do the same in the kitchen, exploring new ways to use your game, and experimenting, which is equally enjoyable.”